The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Yes, it could be Trump

Both Krugman and Marshall came to the same conclusion today, and I, to quote Tom Lehrer, begin to feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis:

Without Jeb, Marco Rubio is the guy Republicans really need to nominate. But he just hasn't shown the sort of strength or political acumen that's required for the task. In a way that doesn't surprise me. I've always found the guy unimpressive and green. But the GOP is in a position where if "Marco Rubio" didn't exist they'd have to invent him.

That is one of the many things that makes the current Trump-Cruz phony war so compelling. Trump is baiting Cruz into the same smackdown he's used to eat up Bush, Walker, Fiorina and others. But Cruz won't take the bait. Like two zen masters facing off in a martial arts classic or perhaps two wizards do battle in The Lord of the Rings, we have an epic confrontation between two master who have trained for decades in the arts of assholery and bullying. But their powers equally matched, it is a stand off.

I just have to hope that Trump's overall polling numbers (he's the choice of 41% of Republicans, which translates to less than 20% of the total electorate) stay steady. We've all seen what happens when right-wing demagogues get into power.

Meanwhile, waiting for the cable guy...

Two more things in the news.

First: Over the weekend more than 200 countries (including the U.S.) signed what could be an historic treaty to reduce climate-changing pollution in hopes of keeping the damage manageable. Even Krugman is optimistic about the deal. We'll see.

Second: combine the over-militarization of local police with internet trolls, and you get "swatting." Perhaps we want to re-think our slide into a police state after all?

Back to waiting for the cable guy...

Killing Trump's candidacy

Waiting for the cable guy and for a couple of conference calls to start gives me a moment to consider some troubling things about the modern U.S.

The more I watch Donald Trump's effects on people, the more credence I'm giving cartoonist Scott Adams' Master Wizard hypothesis, and thinking about how to give Trump a few "linguistic kill shots" of our own.

I'm not endorsing Adams' views on anything, except that the way he frames his blog entries, he tends to make predictions that hold up, within a certain range of bullshit. He claims not to support Trump so much as be impressed with Trump's ability to cause the emotional reactions in others he (Trump) wants. In other words, Adams sees Trump as a master demagogue, and explains how and why.

I think there might be something to Adams' analysis. We need to stop treating Trump like a politician—because he's not. He's a dangerous person, impervious to (and dismissive of) reasoned debate. And we, the sane, who know what happens when demagogues achieve power, need to stop him.

So I'm working on some ways of reframing the Trump candidacy that might work. Stay tuned.


Nice April weather we're having...

Officially at O'Hare right now it's 15.6°C, down slightly from the 16.1°C recorded earlier. My car says it's 17.5°C. These temperatures would be normal for late April or mid-October.

The forecast calls for temperatures to drop to a more-normal -1°C by next weekend, but after that the CPC forecast calls for a 75-90% probability of above-normal temperatures through March.

Keep in mind, warm winters in Chicago often lead to warm summers, because the lake can't dissipate as much heat as it does in a cold winter. And as we're seeing this year, summer temperatures have little influence on winter temperatures here. So while we're all excited about a warm winter, we need to keep in mind that next summer could be brutal.

Forecasters predicted that this year's El Niño would lead to a warm winter, but they weren't really sure. It looks like it will.

What comes around...

It turns out, Chicago has more revolving doors than any other city in the U.S.:

Angus MacMillan, the national sales manager for Crane Revolving Doors, says Chicago and New York are the biggest markets for revolving doors, and that Chicago was the No. 1 market for decades. He thinks downtown Chicago may have more revolving doors per block than New York: “I get my [sales] reps in from all around the country, and I’ll take them to downtown Chicago, and they’ll count more revolving doors in one block there than they have in their whole city.”

Architect Patrick Loughran of Goettsch Partners says Chicago’s still got a lot of revolving doors because we have so many tall buildings.

“Any high rise building is going to have to have elevator cores that take people from the bottom all the way up,” he says. “Those big open tubes create the stack effect where heat and air rise, and it creates this suction at the base of the building.”

Concerns about the stack effect in highrise buildings only partially explain why the revolving door is so common in the Chicago landscape. Because, if you take a stroll around the Loop, you’ll see contemporary low rise buildings with revolving doors as well: drug stores, restaurants, cafes, and clothing retailers. The likely reason doesn’t have to do with countering the stack effect. According to MacMillan, it comes down to comfort and economics — the need to maximize floor space.

I love WBEZ's Curious City series because of stories like this.


Despite organizing our company holiday party, which was last night, and performing later today at Chicago's Christkindlmarket, I still have to squeeze in some actual work. More interesting blog postings will recommence tomorrow or Sunday.

London photos

I've had quite a few tasks on my plate since returning from the Ancestral Homeland Monday night, including preparing for the Messiah performances I've got next weekend. I've finally gotten a quick breather to put up some photos.

First, this guy sat next to me on the Tube from Heathrow:

This is the view from my hotel room (recommended!):

And dinner Sunday was, of course, at my second-favourite pub in the world. Bap with fresh-roasted pork loin, apple sauce, and spicy mustard? Fantastic. Dogs? Five. Beers? These two, which I recommend:

Next trip to London? No idea, but I'm hoping this coming spring.

How does the Supreme Court choose cases?

Crain's has a good description of why the Court denied certiorari on an assault-weapons case but chose to hear an affirmative-action case this term:

The assault-weapons case from Highland Park, Illinois, is a perfect example. The case came to the Supreme Court through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. It raises a substantial and important issue of federal law. That would be enough for justices who think the Illinois law is unconstitutional to grant cert if they really wanted to, as Justice Clarence Thomas made clear in his dissent from the decision to deny.

At the same time, there was a perfectly ordinary bureaucratic reason for the Supreme Court to deny cert: There's no conflict among the different courts of appeal on the legal issues. Several states have similar gun laws, but so far no federal court has struck them down. In October, the Second Circuit upheld bans in New York and Connecticut. And as I noted at the time, the Supreme Court could potentially avoid the issue so long as the appeals courts don't split.

All this brings us to timing: Are the justices affected by something like the San Bernardino attack?

At the margin, there's no question that they can be affected.

Some of the column is speculation, but the author has a good read on Roberts and Kennedy.

Trump is not Hitler

That's just ahistorical and wrong, according to Josh Marshall. No, Trump is more like Mussolini:

Mussolini's speeches have a mix of chest-puffing, hands at the waist swagger, hints of humor, hands to the crowd to calm themselves no matter how excited they are. Frankly, they're almost operatic in nature. The mix of violent rhetoric with folksy hypotheticals and humorous jabs unites the two quite nicely.

The problem of course is that Trump has trended in an increasingly racist and xenophobic direction as his campaign has gone on. But that was never really Mussolini's thing. The Nazi fetishization of race was basically foreign to fascist ideology. And Italian fascism was not at all anti-Semitic ... except after 1938. That's when Mussolini moved into full alliance with Nazi Germany....

In other words, Mussolini's embrace of racism and anti-Semitism appears to have been cynical and opportunistic. But this works as an analog to Trump since I continue to believe that Trump's embrace of racism, anti-Mexican immigrant bigotry and Islamophobia is largely opportunistic. My only hesitation in calling it cynical is that I think Trump may be the type who once he finds something convenient to say then starts to believe it.

Regardless, Trump is a dangerous demagogue who is harming American political discourse the same way Goldwater did.

Difficulty understanding the arguments

I've had some strange online conversations recently. Just today, one of my friends posted quote from comedian Michael Che:

You can’t have whatever you want, all right? I know the Forefathers said you had a right to own a gun, but they also said you could own people!

One of my friend's other Facebook friends commented: "Check your facts. 'Slave' and 'slavery' were never used in the Constitution." Well, that is literally true but irrelevant to Che's point. The 3/5 compromise and the return of fugitives are both in the original document, and then, not to put too fine a point on it, the 13th and 14th amendments both refer to slaves rather directly.

Of course, for all our fretting about stupid people on the Internet, it turns out that stupid people have always been with us. At least once a month I think about Mark Twain's essay "Corn Pone Opinions:"

"You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."

I can never forget it. It was deeply impressed upon me. By my mother. Not upon my memory, but elsewhere. She had slipped in upon me while I was absorbed and not watching. The black philosopher's idea was that a man is not independent, and cannot afford views which might interfere with his bread and butter. If he would prosper, he must train with the majority; in matters of large moment, like politics and religion, he must think and feel with the bulk of his neighbors, or suffer damage in his social standing and in his business prosperities. He must restrict himself to corn-pone opinions -- at least on the surface. He must get his opinions from other people; he must reason out none for himself; he must have no first-hand views.

Today we have the same truth in a different medium. One just hopes, despite the evidence (!), that people whose opinions have no data to support them would come around to the truth if only they could see better data. But if the people in question can't even engage on the argument you're making, it's hard to have hope.